Nathan, a blind Jewish scribe, tells the story of the coming of the Messiah in the person of one Simon Stern--from his birth on the Lower East Side, through his career as a millionaire dealer in real estate, to his building of a refuge for the Jewish remnant of World War II.
"A majestic work of fiction that should stand world literature's test of time, to be read and reread. A masterpiece."--"Commonweal "
"This book ensnares one of the most extraordinarily daring ideas to inhabit an American novel in a number of years. For one thing, it is that risky devising, dreamed of only by the Thomas Manns of the world, a serious and vastly conceived fiction bled out of the theological imagination. For another, it is clearly an 'American' novel--altogether American, despite its Jewish particularity: it is not so much about the history of the Jews as it is about the idea of the New World as haven. . . . In its teeming particularity every vein of this book runs with a brilliance of Jewish insight and erudition to be found in no other novelist. Arthur Cohen is the first writer of any American generation to compose a profoundly Jewish fiction on a profoundly Western theme."--Cynthia Ozick, "New York Times Book Review"
"This stately, ambitious amalgam of Jewish myth, history, theology, and speculations on the Jewish soul is like an enormous Judaic archeological ruin--often hard for the uninitiated to interpret, but impressive. . . . Intelligent, inventive, fascinating."--"New Yorker "
Simon Stern is a multimillionaire realtor, possible Messiah, tortured by guilt about the death of his parents - the fire in a tenement where they lived while he cached his millions in drawers. He founds the Society for the Rescue and Resurrection of the Jews (1500 carefully chosen from the death camps of Europe at the end of World War II) now hidden on the Lower East Side. The organization is later destroyed from within so that its now-healed inmates may re-enter the world - a symbolic reenactment of the Legend of the Wandering Jew. Simon's life, as told by the rescued blind scribe (all scribes are blind) Nathan Gaza, is presented in pseudo-historic form, replete with documents (birth and marriage records), interviews with childhood teachers and his psychiatrist, letters, diary entries, plus Nathan's own interpolations - in true Hebraic hair-splitting fashion - on marginally relevant doctrinal points about the nature of God, evil, religion, history and philosophy galore. This is an ambitious and learned novel by an established Jewish scholar which is at once the strength and weakness of the work: mysticism is the content but not the message (as Simon himself is the least charismatic of Messiahs) - a difficult, overeducated book most likely to be appreciated by those accustomed to the verbal convolutions of the rabbinic tradition. (Kirkus Reviews)
Series: Phoenix Fiction
Number Of Pages: 466
Published: 1st January 1973
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.32 x 13.97
Weight (kg): 0.45
Edition Type: New edition